I have a break-down of what a simple Alice Cracker recipe costs to make here: “Cost, Calories, & Nutrition in Crunch! Alice Crackers versus Commercial Crackers“. Also compare the nutrition in “Fritos Original Corn Chips Nutrition versus Homemade Corn Chips“.
You can make a batch of chips or crackers at home for 25 cents with fresh, organic, whole grain, lentil, nut, bean, and other high-quality high-fiber high-protein ingredients. I don’t believe you will ever be able to buy chips like the ones you make at home cheaply, because of one or more of the reasons listed below.
The biggest hurdle industrial chips & crackers have are all the overhead costs:
- Insurance with at least $1,000,000.00 Minimum Coverage
- Permits (i.e. Health, inspections, etc)
- Business Licenses
- Renting part of a commercial kitchen ($200/day) or buying a place to bake in + property tax
- Ventilation systems, large ovens, and baking equipment are expensive
- Industrial-scale flour mill to create whole grain flour. These operate at high heat. Your own flour mill grinds at low heat, and the Family Grain Mill doesn’t grind as finely, leaving more fiber than pulverized commercial flour, which is more like a powder (though home impact mills, like Nutrimill, make a powdery flour too)
- Paying salaries, employee health care
- Difficult to automate artisan methods of baking chips & crackers like mine
The very profitable $20 billion dollar chip industry makes money by using cheap ingredients, and gets you to buy this crap by adding a lot of salt, oil, and sugar to appeal to your cravings for these substances. They also do this to hide the bad taste of the chemicals in white flour plus the addition of chemicals to dye and add cheap chemical aromas and flavors.
No wonder factory food has so much sugar — it is incredibly cheap — 15 cents a pound, and food makers want the price to go even lower — they are fighting to break the sugar lobby in the USA so they can buy sugar even more cheaply on the world market.
Factory-made chips also use chemicals to extend their shelf life. If you store what you bake in a sealed container, they will last at least 2 months (though if your house is hot, humid, and you used a lot of seeds, don’t wait that long).
Your home-made chips are created with fresh ingredients, especially if you mill your own flour with a coffee & spice mill or flour mill. Seeds are alive, and have phytochemicals and other ephemeral nutrition that’s lost the longer flour sits on a shelf. Industrial chips have been sitting on the shelf who knows how long.
The optional added fat in home-made chips are from seeds that are essential for good health. Industrial chips and crackers add zero-nutrition oil, and often use palm oil, which is destroying rainforests world-wide, and increasing CO2 emissions. Indonesia has the 3rd highest emissions of CO2 in the world (after China and the USA) because they’re cutting down rainforests to grow palm oil trees, and the newly exposed peat soils release quite a bit of CO2.
Industrial chips are higher in calories because of all the cheap oil they add. They don’t have to report trans-fat if it’s less than .5 gram per serving, so if the subcategories of fat don’t add up to the grand total, there’s a good chance the chips or crackers have trans-fat in them.
You can make chips and crackers at home from grain, corn, bean, and lentil flours, which when combined, create a more complete protein (and beans, lentils, and seeds have more protein than most grains). You can also use eggs, cheese, fresh or dried milk, and so on.
The World Health Organization study found that nuts and seeds were one of the most important parts of your diet (especially for heart disease), but no manufacturer is going to add them because
- They’re expensive
- They shorten the shelf life since they can go rancid
- They’re hard to distribute evenly. Some seeds inevitably break off when you break up the cracker sheet. No big deal, since you can add the seeds and crumbs at the bottom of the empty container to salads, cooked vegetables, stews, etc).